Andy Gottesman / Multimedia editor
Two days after missing out on the opportunity to earn a share of the Big Ten title, Purdue senior forward JaJuan Johnson learned he won’t walk away from this season empty-handed, as he was named the Big Ten Player of the Year for the 2010–11 season.
Johnson beat out Ohio State freshman forward Jared Sullinger, who appeared to have a lock on the award for the first three months of the season before seeing stat lines decline in February. Sullinger won four Big Ten Player of the Week awards this season.
Johnson finished the regular season as the Big Ten’s leader in scoring and blocks, with averages of 20.5 points and 2.4 blocks per game. He was also the conference’s No. 4 leader in rebounds, pulling down 8.1 per game.
A native of Indianapolis, Johnson’s top scoring performance — 31 points — came in Purdue’s Dec. 18 win against Indiana State; however, his best all-around performance came in the Boilermakers’ Feb. 27 win against Michigan State, when he scored 20 points and posted season highs in rebounding and blocks, with 17 and seven, respectively.
In winning the award, which has been given out annually since the 1984–85 season, Johnson became the third Boilermaker to be named the Big Ten’s top player, joining Steve Scheffler (1989–90) and Glenn Robinson (1993–94).
Besides winning the Big Ten Player of the Year award, Johnson was an All-Big Ten first-team selection, and was named the Big Ten’s Player of the Week on Feb. 28.
Johnson wasn’t the only Boilermaker to beat out a Buckeye for an award, as Purdue coach Matt Painter was chosen as the Big Ten’s Coach of the Year.
The Buckeyes, however, didn’t walk away empty-handed, as Sullinger was named the conference’s Freshman of the Year, and freshman point guard Aaron Craft was named the Big Ten’s Sixth Man of the Year.
Craft downplayed the individual significance of the award.
“I am fortunate to play on a team full of incredibly talented players,” Craft said in a press release. “I am grateful to have had the opportunity to contribute this season.”
Sullinger echoed the humbleness of his classmate’s reaction.
“I was honestly surprised to hear I was named Freshman of the Year,” Sullinger said in the press release. “There are a lot of talented freshmen in the Big Ten.”
Besides their individual awards, Sullinger was named to the All-Big Ten first team, and Craft was named to the All-Defensive team. Both freshmen were also named to the All-Freshman team.
Other Buckeyes honored Monday include fifth-year senior forward David Lighty, who was named to the All-Big Ten second team and All-Defensive team; junior guard William Buford, who was selected to the All-Big Ten second team; senior guard Jon Diebler, who was named to the All-Big Ten third team; and senior center Dallas Lauderdale, who was named the Buckeyes’ Big Ten Sportsmanship award honoree.
“We are fortunate to play in a tremendous league with outstanding players,” Matta said in the press release. “To have five of our top six players recognized with postseason honors is a tribute to their hard work.”
Big Ten action resumes Thursday with the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis.